‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ Review: A Faithful, but Basic RPG

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, or don’t watch cartoons but decided to read a review of a video game based on one for some reason, here’s a quick refresher on Adventure TimeThis colourful animated series follows the adventures of Finn, a heroic human boy, and Jake, his yellow talking dog as they roam the cutesy post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. And it’s pretty darn brilliant.

While it’s obviously aimed at children, thanks to some silly and abstract humour, over-the-top voice acting, and surprisingly deep (and often chilling) lore, the show has managed to amass a rabid adult and teenage fanbase too.

More importantly though, its charming and colourful cartoon world of swords and hijinx is one that’s simply ripe for video game adaptations. But so far, video game-loving fans haven’t had much luck with Adventure Time.  Previous releases, such as the exhaustingly named Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! and Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!!, felt like Cartoon Network merely slapped the Adventure Time brand onto the most basic of gaming concepts and called it a day.

A license to thrill?



Now though, fans are hoping that might change. Why? Because Bandai Namco is publishing the first ever open world Aventure Time RPG– Pirates of the Enchiridion. With the show set to air its last ever episode later this year, this game could be the perfect way to say goodbye to the land of Ooo. So, does Pirates of the Enchiridion finally do justice to Adventure Tim eas a video game adaptation?

Almost.

The game opens with Finn and Jake waking to find the Land of Ooo has flooded and transformed into a vast ocean, thanks to the villainous-but-lovable Ice King’s Kingdom having almost entirely melted. Very conveniently, the duo finds a makeshift boat nearby their destroyed home, and sets sail to find answers in this newly oceanic Ooo.

Although the sailing aspects may be Pirates of the Enchiridion‘s namesake, it’s perhaps the game’s most boring element. Initially, the sailing gives off strong Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker vibes, but it soon becomes apparent that instead of being the open world we hoped, it’s actually more like your average old-school RPG’s overworld map. And sadly, it’s just as barren.

With the exception of the odd item out at sea for Jake to grab a hold of, there is absolutely nothing of interest to interact with, and these sailing sections act as little more than a way to travel between the waypoints of the various islands around the land.

A (not so) Open World

The one that saves the sailing though, is that these sections contain some of the most genuinely charming moments in the entire game. Thanks to some brilliant performances from the show’s original cast,  we couldn’t help but smile whenever Finn and Jake broke out into song on their journey across the sea. This is reflective of what is perhaps the game’s greatest asset in general. Unlike with previous adaptations, its developers have clearly done their research to understand the show, and have made the effort to emulate the sort of story and dialogue you’d expect to see and hear in a typical episode.

Its characters feel like they do in the series, and its comedic personality is a perfect fit, which, unfortunately, is a real rarity for licensed video games.

The only fault in regards to the personality of the show – which is, let’s be honest, is the single most important element for fans – comes on the technical side, particularly in cutscenes. Although the graphics are generally charmingly cel-shaded, the animation is at times pretty janky, with lip-syncing a little off, and character’s expressions often seemingly unfitting of the situation or dialogue. Finn, for example, appears to be smiling regardless of what he’s actually saying, which is… well, a little weird.

Additionally, there’s some general freezing and juttering in the minute-to-minute gameplay, but if you came into Enchiridon expecting the quality and polish of a blockbuster title,  quite frankly, you were always going to end up disappointed.

Hey, It’s MY TURN

Outside of the sailing sections, there are two other primary modes of gameplay. Once you’ve disembarked from your boat, you control your party in very simplistic and (at times) excruciatingly linear platforming and puzzle segments. Much like the sea, it may at first look more open than it is, but you are effectively set on a very linear path. It feels like the same sort of basic video game concept that licensed titles have been doing since the PlayStation 1 era, bringing little new to the table.

Oh, and Jake can transform into a motorbike for these sections – just don’t ask where the motor sounds are coming from.

Thankfully, these bits are quick enough that they don’t often outstay their welcome. When it comes to the rest of the game, the overworld exploration wasn’t the only thing the developers borrowed from 90’s RPGs. If you’ve ever played a turn-based RPG before,  battles are going to feel all too familiar. When you encounter an enemy, everything plays out exactly as you’d expect an RPG unwilling to shake the boat would; you’re given the option for a standard attack, to use an item, such as a heart vial to recover some of your health, a block, or a special attack.

Special attacks use some of your energy points, which slowly replenish during the course of the battle, and range from simply inflicting more damage, hitting multiple enemies or causing a status effect, such as freezing or confusing. Your ultimate ability, or final attack, can be initiated once a party member takes a significant number of hits during the match, and enemies have their own elemental strengths and weaknesses.

RPG Time


Adventure Time: Pirates Of The Enchiridion Battle

Ending a match victoriously assigns each party member XP, which can eventually level them up, and you can utilise the in-game currency to upgrade your heroes’ health, attack power, defence, etc. Losing a match, however, results in you having to load from your last save or automated checkpoint. This isn’t likely to happen often, if at all, as combat is very, very easy and you’ll always have an abundance of recovery items to keep you safe. That is, unless you approach an high-level enemy with a red skull above their heads, in which case we strongly recommend you run away and return once you’ve levelled up.

Pirates of Enchiridion never diverges from established genre cliches that have existed for decades then.

Still, while it’s easier to look at this with our serious gamer hats on, what is important to take away here is that despite the show’s varied audience, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridionis absolutely aimed at children. It sticks firmly to the RPG genre and licensed game cliches that have been present for decades, rarely straying from that path to risk presenting any original gameplay ideas. While it’ll be a great entry point to RPGs for younger fans, adults will undoubtedly grow tired of it quickly.

Is Adventure Time: Pirates Of The Enchiridion Any Good?

Although it may not be saying much, this is the most authentic representation of the series in a video game to date, and it is comfortably the best game based on the show so far. Yet, unless you are a child or somebody completely obsessed with Adventure Time,  despite its charm, Pirates of the Enchiridion will struggle to keep your attention for long.

Still, if you are a big Adventure Time fan and don’t require every game you play to be an original, stellar experience, there’s definitely fun to be had here thanks to the game’s charm and authenticity alone. For fans looking to say goodbye to the land of Ooo, you could definitely do a lot worse.

‘Pokémon: Let’s Go’ Breathes New Life Into Kanto but Feels Worryingly Shallow

 

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‘The Equalizer 2’ review: Denzel Washington an avenging angel in less-than-heavenly sequel

In “The Equalizer 2,” out Friday, Boston vigilante Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) now drives for Lyft. He picks people up — get it? But he also crushes baddies. That includes creeps who abuse a young woman and then dump her into his car. “Make sure I get a 5-star rating,” McCall barks, just…

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After e-cigarette incident, China cuts Air China’s flight hours and launches safety review

China's aviation regulator will cut Air China's flight hours for its Boeing 737 fleet by 10 percent and cancel the licences for the pilot and co-pilot involved in an emergency descent incident last week, Chinese state television said.
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‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’ Review: Sappy Sequel Dissolves Into the Cher Show

Here we go again. That’s the title of the sequel to the 2008 smash hit Mamma Mia. But this time around, the trip is not as charming, the ABBA songs not as well-known, and the plot even more ridiculous. Luckily, Cher enters in the third act to save this sappy but at times charming sequel.

The Prequel Problem

As we’ve seen with several films this year, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! suffers from the prequel problem. The first film was adapted from a successful musical with the same name. The follow-up feels pieced together, switching back and forth between the present, where Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is trying to re-open her late mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) hotel, and the past, which depicts how a young Donna (Lily James) became pregnant with Sophie via three potential suitors.

The identity of Sophie’s father is the device that drove the first film; in the second, it’s inconsequential as she has strong relationships with all three. Instead, her battle is with a looming storm, literally.


Mamma Mia 2 Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! Donna and the Dynamos
Donna and the Dynamos perform at university.

The film incorporates more obscure tracks from ABBA’s discography — including “One of Us” and “Andante, Andante” — to tell of Donna’s dalliances and desires to do something on her own (opening a hotel). Popular songs from the first film like “Dancing Queen” and the titular “Mamma Mia” — are re-used. Some numbers feel lifted straight from the first film; the townspeople once again descend to the docks singing “Dancing Queen.” Lily James performs most of the vocals in Here We Go Again! She has a sweet voice, but lacks some of older Donna’s swagger (and thankfully Amanda Seyfried’s vibrato).

Younger audiences who do not know the more obscure songs end up waiting for the more familiar ones to come on. They’re treated to eye candy in the forms of young Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), and Harry (Hugh Skinner).


Mamma Mia 2 Here We Go Again! Pierce Brosnan
There’s no face Pierce Brosnan can make that looks bad.

The men are so impossibly attractive that the women ask, “Jesus Christ, what kind of island is this?” And while the men are easy on the eyes, they’re hard on the ears. Each has a mercifully short solo, and their older counterparts (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth) even less. However, when the familiar melodies do come, moviegoers can’t help but smile and tap their feet along. That’s the magic of ABBA’s music.

There are some additional highlights. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprise their roles as Tanya and Rosie, Donna’s best friends and bandmates. Once again, they provide much of the laughs, especially during the cheesy group choreography numbers. Even their younger versions are quite funny; Jessica Keenan Wynn channels young temptress Tanya perfectly, while Alexa Davies proves Rosie’s always had spunk.


Cher mamma mia here we go again
Cher swoops in and saves the sequel.

Of course, the sequel’s biggest savior is Cher, who plays Sophie’s estranged grandmother Ruby Sheridan, a famous Las Vegas headliner. Cher’s performance is so over the top (like any diva, she has multiple wig and outfit changes in the limited scenes she’s in) that viewers can’t help but laugh. It’s sheer, or should we say, Cher ridiculousness. And audiences eat it up.

Is Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! Good?

Even the most diehard ABBA fans wouldn’t call Here We Go Again! good, but it’s cute with a few surprisingly tender moments. Not least of which is an ending duet to “My Love, My Life.” And of course, the stunt casting of Cher can’t be missed.

‘Mamma Mia 2’: Meet the Hot New Additions to the Musical Sequel’s Cast

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TV Review: ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 6

It was hard to know how “Orange is the New Black” would — or could — come back after its fifth season, which was as ambitious as it was ultimately disastrous. The show became as scattered and chaotic as the inmate protest-turned-riot it was trying to depict, sending every character spinning seemingly for the sake […]

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Omni 20 USB-C battery pack review: If you try this $200 battery, you’ll never go back

Best USB-C battery pack for laptops: Omni 20 USB-C review

I remember introducing the rest of my family to rechargeable battery packs about seven years ago, just as everyone was migrating from Blackberries onto a mixture of Android and Palm Pre (!) devices. At the time, a 2,000mAh device that fit in a backpack and gave you 60 percent more battery life was the most magical thing I could remember.

Fast-forward to 2018, and battery packs can do a whole lot more. Thanks to improvements in battery technology, a pack the size of a few decks of playing cards can charge your phone for a week, and USB-C technology means that much bigger and more powerful devices can take a charge.

Continue reading…

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Omni 20 USB-C battery pack review: If you try this $ 200 battery, you’ll never go back originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 14 Jul 2018 at 16:20:35 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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Alfredas Movie Review: Skyscraper

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who are trapped inside the building…above the fire line.

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‘Mary Page Marlowe’ review: Tracy Letts traces life of one woman played by six actresses

“Mary Page Marlowe,” a frustratingly non-impact and not particularly well-acted drama at Second Stage through Aug. 12, recalls the notion of seeing something six ways from Sunday – as in, from every angle.

As such, the title character is played by a half-dozen actresses of various ages, as Mary…

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‘A Child Went Forth’ by mysterious author Boston Teran is a great American saga: book review

The award-winning author and cult sensation known as Boston Teran, who keeps his real identity a secret, is back with the thrilling and thought-provoking new book, “A Child Went Forth.”

The book opens with 13-year-old Charlemagne Griffin — Charlie — and his father in New York in 1851, appealing…

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Film Review: ‘White Fang’

The wild wolfdog isn’t the only thing that gets tamed in “White Fang,” Luxembourgish animator Alexandre Espigares’s ravishingly designed new take on the old Jack London chestnut: London’s hard-bitten survivalist narrative is in for a wholesome cleanup too. Ostensibly more faithful to the novel than Randal Kleiser’s 1991 live-action family adventure — rather than introducing […]

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‘Whitney’ Doc Review: Does It Tell The Whole Truth?

The life and legacy of Whitney Houston, who died in 2012 at the age of 48 in a Los Angeles hotel room is too big to be distilled down into one documentary. So it’s entirely fitting that to date, there are two documentaries.

The first, Can I Be Me, is based on footage shot by Nick Broomfield, who had Whitney’s approval to follow her during what turned out to be a tumultuous tour. The second, simply titled Whitney, takes more of an overview of her life and was approved by Whitney’s estate and family. Directed by Scot Kevin McDonald, who also directed The Last King of Scotland and the Marley documentary about the reggae legend, it’s surprisingly candid.

Watch the ‘Whitney’ trailer:


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Karlovy Vary Film Review: ‘Crystal Swan’

At a time when the U.S. borders are being made as hostile as possible to migrants, stories of hopeful outsiders betting the farm on the American Dream hit hard and true in the heart — even one as outwardly oddball as “Crystal Swan,” freshman helmer Darya Zhuk’s spirited, bittersweet comedy about a restless Belarusian DJ […]

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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at City Center?

Opening the 2018 Off-Center season running through June 30, is Songs for a New World- the first musical from three-time Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown. This powerful collection of songs examines life, love, and the choices ordinary people make when faced with extraordinary moments. From the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to the ledge of a Fifth Avenue high-rise, each character faces a new world which follows the unique challenge they encounter.
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NFL Fines Ex-Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson $2.75M After Misconduct Review

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The NFL has fined former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $ 2.75 million following its investigation into sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.

The league said Thursday the investigation conducted by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White substantiated the allegations against Richardson, that the improper conduct was limited to him and that the team and its ownership failed to report the allegations or any resolution agreements to the league.

The league also said most of the money will go toward organizations that address racial- and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

Richardson put the team up for sale after a Sports Illustrated report in December that Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report also stated that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

Richardson has an agreement to sell the Panthers for a league-record $ 2.2 billion to hedge fund president and owner David Tepper. The league owners unanimously approved the sale last month, and NFL officials said the sale is expected to close in the next two weeks. Tepper is a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Coach Ron Rivera declined to comment Thursday on Richardson’s fine when reached by The Associated Press. General manager Marty Hurney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

White, who was appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as the independent investigator, said her findings and recommendations are the product of a review that included interviews with team executives, former and current employees, document analysis and electronic records.

White states that the Panthers’ anti-harassment and discrimination policy should help prevent a recurrence, and she and Goodell recommend the team report on its internal policies and procedures that address racial discrimination and sexual harassment claims, as well as related workplace issues, by the end of the year.

She also recommended the league prohibit non-disclosure agreements to limit the reporting of potential violations or cooperation with league investigations, require workplace misconduct claims to be reported to the league office, establish a confidential hotline for league and team employees to report workplace conduct issues and review policies and procedures with owners, team counsel and human resource executives.

The NFL said the recommendations will be presented to the league’s Conduct Committee before the coming season.

NFL officials have said they didn’t know about the allegations against Richardson until Dec. 15, the same day the Panthers issued a stunning news release first announcing its own investigation of Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct. That was followed two days later by the Sports Illustrated report that detailed Richardson’s alleged misconduct and also by the announcement that Richardson would sell the team he founded.

The Panthers also promoted Tina Becker to chief operating officer in the wake of the investigation.

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Review Roundup: Critics Weigh-In On Carey Mulligan in GIRLS & BOYS

BAFTA Award winner and Academy amp Tony Award nomineeCarey MulliganSkylight, An Education opened tonightin Girls amp Boys, the shattering new play byDennis KellyMatilda The Musical, Taking Care of Baby and directed by Olivier Award winnerLyndsey TurnerMachinal, Chimerica.
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‘Girls & Boys’ review: Carey Mulligan’s must-see Off-Broadway triumph

The less said about “Girls & Boys” and its star Carey Mulligan the better — and that’s the opposite of a dis

One reason for being tight-lipped that this play from London at the Minetta Lane Theatre by Tony winner Dennis Kelly (“Matilda The Musical”) goes to unexpected places. No one should spoil…

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Trump administration to use review panel to curb China tech investments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will use a strengthened national security review panel process to deal with potential threats from Chinese acquisition of American technologies, instead of imposing China-specific restrictions.


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BWW REVIEW: Patti LuPone’s DON’T MONKEY WITH BROADWAY Is Masterclass Of Musical Theatre Storytelling With Magnificent Music

Broadway Musical Theatre legend Patti LuPone shared an intimate night of memories and marvellous music in her concert DON’T MONKEY WITH BROADWAY.
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Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh In On Idina Menzel in SKINTIGHT

Roundabout Theatre Companypresents the world premiere production of SKINTIGHT, by Roundabout Underground alumnusJoshua HarmonBad Jews, Significant Other, with direction by three-time Obie Award winnerDaniel AukinBad Jews. The cast includesWill Brittainas ‘Trey,’Stephen Carrascoas ‘Jeff,’Eli Gelbas ‘Benjamin Cullen,’Cynthia Maceas ‘Orsolya,’Idina Menzelas ‘Jodi Isaac’ andJack Wetherallas ‘Elliot Isaac.’
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BWW Review: Chukwudi Iwuji and Corey Stoll Give Memorable Turns in Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s OTHELLO

From the very beginning, one of the most important tenants of Joseph Papp’s vision of free Shakespeare in Central Park has been the insistence the company of actors audiences see on stage will always reflect the extraordinary and powerful cultural diversity of New York City.
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In Review: Old Navy All-Temp Twill Five-Pocket Pants

O.N. Slim Built-In Tough All-Temp Pants – $ 29.99 w/ STYLE ($ 49.99)

About the Author: John Sosnowski is a warehouser by night, budding freelance writer by day, and style enthusiast at all hours. He believes clothes, music, and animals are just a few of the things that make life incredible. See more at www.snowskiwrites.com.

Many stylish guys rue the day when the temperature climbs too high to wear our favorite jeans without fear of heat stroke. Luckily, Old Navy has come through with a five-pocket that nails the “jean” look and feel about as well as a summer-weight pant possibly can.

In Review: Old Navy All-Temp Twill Five-Pocket Pants | Dappered.com

The fabric is a reasonably lightweight and impressively soft Cotton (70%) / Polyester (28%) / Spandex (2%) blend that seems almost too good for the price point. Old Navy suggests that the All-Temp fabric on these is truly all-season, but based on their weight and breathability, I wouldn’t rely on them in freezing temperatures. But these should be capable three-season performers, even through the dog days of summer.

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They also state their Built-In Tough fabric technology offers double the durability of ordinary denim. The pants haven’t been torture tested for this review, but they should be more than tough enough for casual wear. One wonders if the Built-in Tough construction gives them their denim-like characteristics, which for me are the truly remarkable aspect. Compared to other lightweight five-pockets, details like the riveting and fabric texture bring the overall vibe of these pants closer to the jean than chino side of things.

In Review: Old Navy All-Temp Twill Five-Pocket Pants | Dappered.com

The slim fit seems on par with most Gap Inc. pants: A 30 x 30 is somewhat roomy on my 5’ 11” 152 pound frame. It may be just right for those with average thighs. Thanks to Old Navy’s Built In-Flex, they offer an ample amount of stretch as well. If slim with stretch is still too confining for your tastes, note that a straight version is also offered. The “Willow Bark” color is shown in this review; the khaki “Craig’s Castle” shade is the only other color offered as of this writing. Returns are free if you’re not happy with sizing and they should be frequently on sale because it’s Old Navy.

Nothing is quite the same as pulling on your favorite pair of dark jeans, but when the mercury climbs above 80, Old Navy has you covered with the next best thing.

In Review: Old Navy All-Temp Twill Five-Pocket Pants | Dappered.com


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Review Roundup: Barrington Stage’s THE ROYAL FAMILY OF BROADWAY With Music and Lyrics by William Finn; Updating Live!

Barrington Stage Company BSC, the award-winning theatre in downtown Pittsfield, under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, presents the world premiere musical, The Royal Family of Broadway. Performances run through July 7 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage 30 Union Street.
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BWW Review: An Irresistible Tom Hanks Goes for the Gusto as Falstaff in HENRY IV

Director Daniel Sullivan’s adaptation of HENRY IV, Parts 1 amp 2 may only be playing in the Japanese Garden on the VA campus for another three weeks but it is bound to rank as one of the summer’s most talked-about events. Why Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has saved up a secret weapon for the production, one few can resist.
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Writer of viral Olive Garden review grateful for Bourdain

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A North Dakota newspaper columnist who received online vitriol in 2012 for her glowing review of an Olive Garden in Grand Forks said Saturday she was grateful that Anthony Bourdain came to her defense as others ridiculed her prose about the town’s hottest new Italian restaurant.
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‘Hereditary’ Review: A Punishing Horror Film That Must Be Seen

Horror is often viewed as a genre that exists only to entertain. Some audiences watching a horror movie only want a thrilling experience that allows them the fun of being scared with none of the actual danger that fear represents. Hereditary shirks that approach and delivers a horror experience that is genuinely uncomfortable. This isn’t a fun time at the movies.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary viewing. Because it is.

Emotional Horror


hereditary funeral
Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro) attend Ellen's funeral.

Hereditary centers around the Graham family shortly after the death of the family matriarch, Ellen. Her daughter Annie (Toni Collette) is trying to cope with the loss. She’s afraid of the mental disorders she’s possibly inherited from her mother and she’s starting to sense a presence in her old home. There’s also Steve (Gabriel Byrne), Annie’s sympathetic but frustrated husband, and their two children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro).

Much like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s BabyHereditary isn’t a film that is centered around big jump scares. Instead, it focuses on intensely emotional moments to drive home its feelings of terror and dread. This is a film where people reacting to a tragedy is as skin-crawling as a possible specter lurking in the shadows. A lot of credit goes to the superb cast, especially Toni Collette who gives a performance worthy of all the awards.

Nightmare Logic


hereditary dollhouse
Annie (Toni Collette) builds miniature dollhouse models that reflect moments in her life.

Another impressive element of Hereditary is its ability to present surreal imagery without coming across as pretentious or obtuse. For example, there are multiple times in the film where a strange light pulses across the screen. We aren’t told what this light is but we get a sense of its intention. It’s off-putting and bizarre but not in a non-sensical way. Because of this, it feels both creepy and strangely understandable.

And just wait until the movie ramps up as it heads towards its climax. The levels of hysteria and insanity in Hereditary reach such a fever pitch that you start to feel as if you’re going mad. Considering the film is using its story as a metaphor for mental illness — particularly dementia — this is an appropriate escalation. And boy, it works too well. By the end of the film, it feels like you’ve woken up from a nightmare.

Characters You Cry For


hereditary family
The Graham family is not alright.

Honestly, the strongest part of Hereditary is its success in creating truly human characters. The Grahams feel achingly real. You’ve known these people and they are probably in your family. What’s great is that none of them are heroes or villains. They are just people. That means they have interesting qualities — Annie is an artist who makes miniature models — and believable flaws. There are moments of devastation and danger that will have you gasping for these people. That’s powerful.

And it bears repeating: the actors in this are at the top of their game. Toni Collette is doing work that most will pass off as pure histrionics. Those people would be missing how gut-wrenching her character’s perspective is during the film. Her reactions and fears come across at completely genuine. And young Alex Wolff has a difficult job in presented Peter as an apathetic teen whose relationship with his mother is more disturbing than we first know. Plus, young newcomer Milly Shapiro is the secret, sad heart of Hereditary and she demonstrates an emotional intelligence that few child actors ever reach.

The Nitpick

Okay, so there is one thing about Hereditary that doesn’t quite click but it’s not possible to talk about in depth without spoilers. So, in the interest of keeping this review spoiler-free, we’ll just say that Hereditary is very vague with its motives for most of the film. It’s towards the end that an explanation begins to take shape. And honestly, it feels somewhat out-of-place for the movie you’ve been watching.

It doesn’t sink the film at all but it does try and give a clear-cut reason for the supernatural shenanigans going on. The film works without this explanation and that’s a testament to its narrative strength. The ending actually makes things more confusing by trying to give a somewhat easier answer. It works but it’s not nearly as interesting as when things were kept unknown.

Is Hereditary Good?

Full of nightmarish imagery and emotional terror, Hereditary has the makings of a horror classic. There is true evil lurking inside this film. The acting is superb, the atmosphere is unsettling, and the tension is nigh unbearable. When it comes to making an unabashedly horrifying experience, writer/director Ari Aster has knocked it out of the park. See this immediately but don’t expect to sleep well that night.

The post ‘Hereditary’ Review: A Punishing Horror Film That Must Be Seen appeared first on FANDOM.

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‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ review roundup: What the critics thought

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The latest installment of the Jurassic Park series sounds like a palatable film for fans of the series but doesn’t offer up a completely enrapturing experience the whole way through.

Reviewers have weighed in on the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the sequel to Jurassic World, and it isn’t getting the most thrilling praise so far. In this movie, a volcano at the Jurassic World theme park has erupted, sending the human protagonists and a handful of dinosaurs away from the island and into normal society which is fine for the humans but not so great for the dinosaurs. 

More about Movies, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Review Roundup, and Entertainment


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Concert Review: Pink Reaches Full Altitude at Spectacular Forum Show

In the history of traveling pop music outings, there’s probably never been a better first 10 seconds of any tour than the opening of Pink’s current show. After a small eternity in which the audience is left gazing at a reddish curtain, increasingly indented as unknowable pieces of staging are pushed into place, it suddenly […]

Variety

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Review: Ye Is an Uneasy Look at Kanye West’s Life as a Walking Contradiction

Kanye West’s projects since he teamed up with his now-wife Kim Kardashian West in 2012—the abrasive Yeezus, the sprawling The Life of Pablo, the series of personal appearances punctuated by top-of-the-head singles—have had varying stylistic contours. The one thing they’ve consistently focused on is contrast: Light and dark, ugly and beautiful, self-aggrandizing and self-loathing.

West is perhaps uniquely qualified to grapple with this. In the public mind of 2018 he is “Kanye,” shorthand for an outspoken black man who says a lot of outré things in a world still struggling mightily with its racial politics, who Barack Obama has called a “jackass,” and who’s married to a similarly polarizing figure. (Among other things.) He’s also Kanye West, rapper and producer born in Chicago, happy when he’s eating ice cream. The back-and-forth between “Kanye” and the public can be excruciating to watch unfold in real time, particularly when it deals with topics like mental illness and opioid edition, and even moreso when it touches even more volatile third rails like President Donald Trump. It’s perhaps most disheartening when it crosses onto platforms that take the wink-and-nod approach to any subject they tackle—your TMZs, your 24-hour news networks, your drive-by Tweeters looking for an excuse to blow off steam—and erase the humanity at the star’s nucleus.

But West didn’t reach his exalted position because he went on a reality show with no interest in making friends. He was an innovative producer who minted hits, both for himself—the Ray Charles callback “Gold Digger,” the dreamy “P.Y.T.” flip “Good Life”—and for others, like former confidante Jay-Z and pop megastars Rihanna and Paul McCartney. This year, in addition to his gossip-blog-poking appearances, he returned to music, “chopping samples from the sunken place” (as he said on Twitter—he apparently meant Jackson Hole, Wyoming) on albums for himself, as well as other artists in his G.O.O.D. Music stable.

Ye, West’s eighth solo album and the second in this pre-summer flurry, was launched at a splashy listening party in Jackson Hole on Thursday. West collected boldfaced names and influencers in order to hear the record around a campfire. It opens in the dark; the first track is unnervingly called “I Thought About Killing You,” and it opens with West in monologue, his voice stretching and shifting as he talks about murder and suicide over watercolor synths. “I think this is the part where I’m supposed to say something good to compensate it, so it doesn’t come off… bad,” he says, then chuckles mirthlessly before his voice is pitched to an even lower point, so as to emphasize the “really, really, really bad things” knocking around his brain. (Think American Psycho where the exalted business cards are flaunted on Instagram.) Those impulses recede, but linger over the rest of the record.

Sonically, Ye resembles Pablo but, perhaps appropriately given its terse title, more stripped-down, with the occasional pitch-shifted voice dropped in to add uneasiness. Ye doesn’t deviate too much from the lyrical concepts of Pablo—it blends the trivial and the life-or-death like on the darkened-club “Yikes,” where he declares his bipolar syndrome (which he calls out on the scrawled-on-iPhone-pic cover) to be his “superpower” and compares the U.S.-North Korea tensions to his long-simmering beef with Wiz Khalifa. “Wouldn’t Leave” is a love song that doubles as an apology to his wife; closing track “Violent Crimes,” which features a shoutout to and cameo by fellow stratosphere-dweller Nicki Minaj, draws from the “I respect women more now that I have daughters” well that’s simultaneously frustrating and a relief. But it wouldn’t be a Kanye album without fundamental contradictions to the very end.


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Concert Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Gets Adoring Tribute at Hollywood Bowl

Is “Beauty and the Beast” dated? A little bit, if only when pitted against contemporary ethics. As the original, animated version of the film unspooled at the Hollywood Bowl Friday night in a combination of screening and all-star live musical performance, it was clear that a few of the moral lessons imparted in 1991 seem […]

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'Detroit: Become Human' review: Strong characters make your choices matter

'Detroit: Become Human' review: Strong characters make your choices matter“Detroit: Become Human” is a game that wants all of your choices to matter. From how you reply to other characters, to the split-second decisions you make during a scuffle, to whether you peer into an open doorway, nearly every action you make in “Detroit” feels as though it would impact the game’s narrative and, eventually, its final outcome. It’s not a perfect game — I had problems with the controls at times and quick-time events that felt overwhelming— but this is easily the best title to date from developer Quantic Dream.



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Album Review: “Shawn Mendes”

Since Shawn Mendes emerged in 2014 as one of the first-ever “Vine stars” (it’s hard to believe how quaint a term involving defunct social-media app can sound), he’s evolved with a self-assurance that belies his youth, his indisputable cuteness and the seemingly inevitable fizz that would come with such an arrival. He’s deftly avoided many […]

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This Week on Broadway for May 20, 2018: Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution (Book Review)

Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about the new book, Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution by Todd S. Purdum. Reviews include Lincoln Center Theater’s production of My Fair Lady, and Abingdon Theatre Company presents the New York premiere of The Gentleman Caller @ Cherry Lane Theatre.   This read more
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Cannes Film Review: ‘The Wild Pear Tree’

With “Winter Sleep,” Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan signaled a shift in style, increasing the importance of extended dialogues to the visually rich chamber pieces he plays out on grand stages. “The Wild Pear Tree” goes a step further, building elaborate rhetorical set pieces of such density that digesting them in all their intricacies at […]

Variety

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Beauty Wednesday: My Hanacure Mask Review

hanacure mask reviewRecently, while watching Santa Clarita Diet, I turned to my husband and said, WHOA: Drew Barrymore’s skin looks amazing. Sure, she’s playing a zombie who feels amazingly alive now that she’s undead — plus, she IS Drew Barrymore — but still, I was impressed. (Side note/squee: hooray for Timothy Olyphant.) Obviously, this lead me to Google, which lead to reports that Barrymore swears by the Hanacure mask I’ve seen all over Facebook — aka “the Grandma” mask. FINE, said I: let’s order it. I just got the single mask ($ 29), but there’s a set of four for $ 110 also (that’s the one pictured). Here’s my quick Hanacure mask review and thoughts:

  • I had a TON left over in my $ 29 set — I wouldn’t recommend “saving some for later” because part of the fun of the mask is combining different ingredients — but I did wish my mother or best friend were with me so we could’ve done it together. (My husband valiantly turned it down.) I wound up just putting the rest on my face, but it really felt like I could’ve stopped at the two-thirds point, which could have easily been the halfway point if I’d skipped my chest or hands.
  • Oooooh, it’s tight: they were not kidding about that. I made the mistake of watching some SNL videos while I waited for it to dry and it hurt to laugh (I didn’t want to put on my glasses and I’m blind enough to need to stay put once they’re off). Another bonus: you get to look like this after about 10 minutes in.
  • Block two-three hours out of your day the first time: I happened to do this Mother’s Day and freaked out a bit because the instructions warn that “there may be 90 minutes of redness” and after my shower the redness was evident… but sure enough it did fade by the time we went out to meet family. (Yes, there are pictures of the redness; no, you don’t get to see them.)

Did it work? Well: I did catch a view of my face in a mirror in sunlight and found myself thinking, HEY, I do have some of Drew Barrymore’s luminous glow. Not QUITE as much as she does, but then again, she owns a skincare and beauty company AND probably has a trainer and regular facials at fancy spas and blah blah blah and I, well, not. The big caveats here, of course, is that a) I’m kind of into skin stuff right now (I’m still doing my regular skincare regimen, using Good Genes on a regular basis, and I just bought a sampler set of Drunk Elephant stuff that I’m loving) so who knows whether this particular mask had any effect on my skin or whether it was, you know, cumulative, b) I must admit I didn’t really study my face in sunlight BEFORE the mask, and of course, c) I’ve been pretty lucky thus far with “good skin” (and hooray for extra pounds being great for keeping wrinkles at bay!) so, yeah, there’s that.

TL;dr Hanacure mask review: I’d buy it again — particularly for a night in with girlfriends.

Ladies, have you tried the Hanacure mask? What’s your review? Are you generally a fan of facials at fancy spas, or do you prefer to do your skincare at home? Have you tried anything lately that you’re loving?

 Curious about the Hanacure mask (aka the Grandma face) you may be seeing all over Facebook and other social media? Kat tried it, and is sharing her Hanacure Mask review!

The post Beauty Wednesday: My Hanacure Mask Review appeared first on Corporette.com.

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‘Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition’ Review: Not the Weakest Link

This is the third time Nintendo has released Hyrule Warriors. The first two versions – on 3DS and Wii U – had different sets of content, catered for their platforms. On the Switch, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo Games has rolled both versions of the game into one, presenting the most complete version of the title you’re going to get.

But with Warriors games (generally referred to as ‘Musou’ titles by fans), being content complete doesn’t really count for much if you’re not a fan of the gameplay. It’s infamously repetitive, and the joy of the series comes from simply mashing away at X and Y and pulling off flashy, over-the-top nonsense, sending droves of enemies flying off in every direction.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is no different. Granted, you have a nice Zelda-themed skin over the top of it all this time. But under that bright, happy skin you’ve got the bones of a standard Musou game.

The Zelda flavouring certainly helps make the title more interesting than the Three Kingdoms narrative the mainline Musou games have been retreading for over 10 years – and that helps keep your attention – but if you’re new to the series, there are a few important things you should know about games like this.

Die, Nasty Warriors!

These games are repetitive. If you’re buying into a Warriors title, be aware that you’re going to be doing the same thing over and over for up to 100 hours. Personally, we quite like this kind of gameplay – you run into a crowd of enemies, start mashing X and hitting Y occasionally to pull out a move that does more area-of-effect damage to clear as much of an area as possible. It’s therapeutic.

For the most part, you really don’t have to engage your brain. Playing as Link, or Sheik, or the newly added female Link character (inventively called Linkle), or any of the 20-plus character strong cast, you can just blast through piles of enemies. Carve a path of righteous vengeance through hordes of familiar Zelda cannon fodder en route to a boss (usually an AI-controlled version of another playable character).


Tingle pumps up a giant balloon surrounded by enemies

The minions are chaff. Most characters have a few focused attacks mapped to the normal attack button (X) which cuts through regiments of Bokoblins, Bulblins, or Miniblins effortlessly. Interrupting your ceaseless mashing of X with a Y here and there pulls out a character’s special move – you’ll notice these usually refer to something that character knows from their parent game.

The Legend Mode (fancy name for Story mode) does a good job of getting you through most of the characters and introducing you to their two primary weapons (Warriors fans will mostly notice movesets from other games… seeing Lana effectively using Lu Bu’s moveset is… interesting).

As you progress, you get medals to improve combat capability via a skill tree. This is the most rudimentary RPG progression system you could possibly imagine, and adds very little to the gameplay. It gives you a way to track progression, at least — but it’s so simple even very young children could understand it.

Level Crossing

The game takes you through the eponymous Hyrule via 16 stages — five of them being original locations in the game, and the others coming from the wider Zelda back catalogue: Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and Wind Waker. Each location is pretty unique and has its own layout, complete with forts to capture, traps to navigate, secrets to find, and easter eggs to enjoy.

The themes of the levels (Lake Hylia, Death Mountain, Skyloft et al) are mostly dressing. Levels play like any other Warriors game. That is, you have a task – an ally to defend, a fort to capture, a boss to defeat – and the entire game is getting from point A to point B to make that happen.

Every single challenge in the game ends with you killing something. Maybe sometimes you’ll need to kill something quickly! Maybe you’ll need to kill two things! Maybe three! …But that’s as exciting as it gets.


Sheik plays the harp

Again, if you’re getting into this game, you’re doing so for the Zelda dressing and the therapeutic action of slaying things. Don’t expect the levels to do anything mold-breaking or special — every single location is just a staging ground for more of the same.

This game steps it up from other Warriors titles by letting you hot swap between various characters though, and send AI allies to various places on the map. There’s more of a focus on strategy in Hyrule Warriors — in theory. You can opt to ignore all the AI options, all the ally options, and so on, and still sleepwalk through the game. Learning the systems via the dull on-screen prompts will make your life easier, but it’s not essential.

Link Together

The game does offer a little alternative gameplay in the form of Adventure Mode. This nice little add-on is a lovely nod towards the original The Legend of Zelda. Moving from location to location, as per the game that started it all, you’ll progress the original story. But instead of the 2D screens and simple mechanics, you’ll fight in challenges inspired by the Warriors-based levels.

These challenges are ranked, and the better you perform, the better gear you get as a reward. If you want to step away from Legend Mode’s admittedly grating story and try some more engaging missions, this is the place to go.


A devastating area attack sends enemies backwards

As per the Wii U version of the game, there are some opportunities throughout the modes to engage in co-op. But whilst the Wii U version stuttered and suffered from texture pop-in and lag, the Switch version is silky smooth.

As such, Hyrule Warriors becomes a great game for a pair of mates to just sit and chew through together. Playing it together is like putting on an old album you both love, both know inside out, and don’t really have to pay too much attention to. It’s a great game for giving friends nostalgic for Zelda something to do whilst they catch up, you know?

Is Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Good?

It’s not a bad game, but the mileage you’re going to get out of it will vary depending on the type of player you are. If you’re a completionist, there’s a lot to get through; the copy/paste skill trees for each character take a lot of grinding to complete. Unlockable costumes via Legend Mode take a bit of work, too.

For more involved play, Adventure Mode is an interesting take on the Musou formula, and feels like a love letter to Zelda in the best way. But the meat of all your gameplay is very simple, repetitive action – we can’t emphasise that enough. You’ll risk breaking your Joy-Cons from the constant tapping of X. You’ll wear the button out.

The formula is simple, but these are like your summer Hollywood blockbusters in a game. You can turn your brain off, gurn simply at the pretty colours and badass moves, nurse your hangover with the brainless joy of killing bad guys.

Musou games have evolved, slowly, and crossovers like this and the Fire Emblem effort (also available on Switch) have proved that the appeal for this simple hack-n-slash gameplay has never waned.

The Zelda skin helps keep things fresh, keep things different enough to warrant a purchase of this for even the most veteran Musou fans. If you’re new to the games but like Zelda, don’t go in expecting a masterpiece. But if you’re down for simple, popcorn-movie like fun you can’t go wrong with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. There’s a ton of content, multiple fan-favourite characters, and an over-the-top, cheese-ridden story.

The post ‘Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition’ Review: Not the Weakest Link appeared first on FANDOM.

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Film Review: ‘Deadpool 2’

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you want a completely spoiler-free experience going into “Deadpool 2.” Thanks to some mistranslated Latin, generations of schoolchildren were brought up to believe that ancient Roman households contained a special room called a vomitorium, in which feasting nobles could purge themselves of the night’s dinner and drinks, then […]

Variety

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Tool of the Trade: When to Trust Online Reviews (Fakespot Review)

when to trust online reviewsI sometimes wonder, “What would I do without online reviews?” because I rely on them so much (for example, as a very frequent Amazon Prime user). When I’m looking for a new bra or shoes or a flash drive or a book (ha, remember when Amazon was about books?), I note the average rating and often read a few of the reviews. At Amazon, I’ll often use “4 stars & up” as a search filter. Recently, I was looking for something for undereye circles, and besides the usual suspects, my search turned up a bunch of products from brands I’ve never heard of — and they had thousands of positive reviews. (Some of the products appeared to be the same ones as others sold under different names, which seemed like a red flag). Around the same time, I came across a site called Fakespot, which proposes to solve the problem of how to spot fake reviews on Amazon and other sites. It quickly analyzes online reviews for Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor (especially relevant after its recent controversy), and Apple’s App Store, and grades each one from A–F. A indicates 90%+ reliable reviews and reviewers. After it takes into the account the real vs. questionable reviews for a particular product you enter, Fakespot gives you an “adjusted rating.”

I tested out Fakespot for a few of those eye serums I saw and got some interesting results regarding when to trust online reviews for beauty products:


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  • Pure Biology “Total Eye” – 4.3 rating from 2,997 reviews. Fakespot grade: D — “49.0% of the reviews are reliable.”
  • Organys Rejuvenating Eye Formula — 4.5 rating from 2,475 reviews. Fakespot grade: C — “Our analysis detected
    25.0% low quality reviews.”
  • Baebody Eye Gel – 4.1 rating from 12,860 reviews. Fakespot grade: B. — “Our analysis detected over 80% high quality reviews.”

Compare those results to a review from a more reputable, mainstream brand, Maybelline, whose very popular Instant Age Rewind Concealer has a 4.1 rating on Amazon from 4,124 reviews. Fakespot gave the reviews an A grade and reported, “Our analysis detected over 90% high quality reviews.” (I actually bought the concealer a few months ago and wasn’t a big fan — FWIW, I’ve had better luck with Urban Decay — but it’s hugely popular and people love it, so YMMV.)

As one more experiment, today I checked on the TripAdvisor reviews for a family resort we’ve visited a few times (it has 7,000 reviews) and Fakespot said, “Oh! This is something we haven’t analyzed yet, please wait” and then eventually gave me a server error. The second time, it seemed to be analyzing the reviews for several minutes and … never stopped. Still, as someone who shops online far more than in brick & mortar stores, I’m so glad a tool like this exists.

How do you know how to trust online reviews? Do you use online reviews a lot when you’re making shopping decisions? Do you ever write online reviews yourself? How useful do you find it when a site like Rent the Runway, ModCloth, and Sephora (and Amazon) include customers’ own images on product pages? 

Online shoppers constantly wonder when to trust online reviews--so our editor tried Fakespot, a new tool to spot fake reviews on Amazon, Yelp, Tripadvisor and beyond. Great online shopping advice!

The post Tool of the Trade: When to Trust Online Reviews (Fakespot Review) appeared first on Corporette.com.

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I Ocean-Tested Lululemon’s Brand-New Bikini—Here’s My Honest Review

There are swimsuits made for poolside lounging and then there are swimsuits made for actual swimming, surfing, or the water sport of your choice—and yes, they are very different. Lululemon’s new swimwear collection, dubbed Will the Wave, definitely fits into the latter category. (But make no mistake: The pieces are still cute enough to wear poolside if that’s more your speed.)

The new suits were designed with pro surfer and Lululemon ambassador Malia Manuel, so you can bet they were created to withstand whatever the ocean throws at you. The collection just launched today, but I was lucky enough to test it out last week, when Lululemon invited me for a surf session in Malibu (with Manuel on hand for much-needed pointers, of course).

I hit the surf wearing the new bikini, and I can definitively confirm that it didn’t budge one bit in the waves. There are no ties or closures to come undone, and the cross-back detail ensures that the straps won’t be falling off your shoulders. Bonus: I thought the bikini top had an amazing push-up effect on my small chest—a miracle if I do say so myself. As for the bottoms, they feel snug and secure without feeling tight and won’t put you at risk for an embarrassing moment after a big wave.

Plus, I later put on a wetsuit to guard against the chilly water, and I thought the bikini was the perfect thin, unnoticeable layer to wear underneath—it definitely lives up to the “second skin” description. Don’t believe me? Scroll down to shop the bikini as well as the cute one-pieces from the collection.

Here’s me in the center with pro surfer and Lululemon ambassador Malia Manuel (R) and Bustle editor Sara Tan.  On me: Lululemon Will the Wave Bikini Top in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68) and Will the Wave Bikini Bottom in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68). On Manuel: Lululemon Will the Wave Long Sleeve One Piece ($ 128)
On Manuel: Lululemon Will the Wave Bikini Top in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68) and Will the Wave Bikini Bottom in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68)
Lululemon Will the Wave Bikini Top in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68) and Will the Wave Bikini Bottom in Eternal Wave Starlight ($ 68). Available in sizes 2 to 12.
Lululemon Will the Wave Bikini Top in Black ($ 68) and Will the Wave Bikini Bottom in Black ($ 68). Available in sizes 2 to 12.
Lululemon Will the Wave Bikini Top in White ($ 68) and Will the Wave Bikini Bottom in White ($ 68)Available in sizes 2 to 12.
Available in sizes 2 to 12.

Celebrity Style and Fashion Trend Coverage | http://www.whowhatwear.com

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Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh In on LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE At New York Theatre Workshop

On the heels of her acclaimed production of Hadestown on the NYTW stage and her Broadway debut with Natasha, Pierre amp The Great Comet of 1812, three-time Obie Award winnerRachel Chavkinreturns to New York Theatre Workshop withCaryl Churchill’s incisive drama LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE. In 1647 England, power is shifting and, amid the chaos and confusion, revolutionaries across the country are dreaming of a new future.
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Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall: ‘At every turn there is something unexpected to discover’ – review

This National Trust property near Falmouth is a delight for younger visitors with a maze, sheltered beach, nature trails to explore and rope swings

Originally home to a wealthy Quaker family (the Foxes), these subtropical gardens sweep down through three valleys to a sheltered beach on the River Helford. Nature trails run through wild flowers and tree ferns, a miniature art gallery is tucked into an upturned boat and a tiny thatched schoolroom is still complete with blackboard tablets. In May the bluebell displays are a highlight. At every turn there is something unexpected to discover.

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Netflix’s Manhunt Review

John Woo was once considered the master of action cinema, dominating the action landscape throughout the 1980s and 1990s with hyperbolic, bloody, bullet-riddled spectaculars. In his native China, he helmed classics like The Killer, Hard Boiled, and A Better Tomorrow. In America, he raked in enormous box office numbers with overblown-slash-awesome popcorn explosions like Face/Off, Hard Target, and Mission: Impossible 2. After the dismal Paycheck, Woo returned to China, and turned his attention to historical epics like Red Cliff and The Crossing, both of which run over four hours apiece.

Right at the beginning of Woo’s new film Manhunt, now available on Netflix, the protagonist – a Chinese lawyer named Du Qiu (Zhang Hanyu) vacationing in Japan – has a conversation with a waitress about how much better old movies used to be, and about how all the new films are too long. Woo, it seems, has a need to wistfully recall – and celebrate – his own filmography, looking back to his glory, possessed by a halcyon pang to recreate the slow-motion bullets and boxes of doves that had become his signature. The brash bloody action that immediately follows Manhunt’s opening– and continues entertainingly apace throughout the span of the film – feels comfortably retro. It’s all blood packs and stuntmen instead of CGI. We haven’t seen mid-budget Chinese action schlock quite this slick for at least 20 years.

Continue reading…

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BWW Review: The Mobile Unit Brings Free Performances of Shakespeare’s HENRY V To The Public

‘Raise your hand if you’ve ever been underestimated,’ instructs Program Director Stephanie Ybarra before every performance of Shakespeare’s HENRY V, as performed by The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit.
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Tribeca Film Review: ‘The Fourth Estate’

The opening or closing night of a film festival can make a statement — about where that festival, or the larger world of film, is headed. Tonight, the Tribeca Film Festival made a striking statement by presenting Liz Garbus’ “The Fourth Estate” as its closing-night selection. Garbus is a reknowned documentary filmmaker (“Searching for Bobby […]

Variety

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‘Frostpunk’ Review: Survival City-Building in a Winter Wasteland

It’s the end of the world, as we know it. In Frostpunk, the snow has consumed everything. Hundreds of Londoners set out to create a new city, built around a life-saving, coal-burning Generator. Managing the world’s last city, Frostpunk tests your ability to have your empathy pulled in multiple directions and stay frosty.

Witness the rise of the winnable city-builder. Much in the same vein as They Are Billions, Frostpunk tasks you with building a city to weather a timed calamity. In this case, you’ll weather the weather.

Frostpunk is essentially steampunk in a universe where the sun is dying. The planet is scorched. Daring friends to lick metal poles is strictly forbidden. You and your expedition will make a new home out of a resource-rich crater, braving nature’s icy wrath until the worst of the storm passes and you realise…

We built this city. We built this city on rock and coal.


A Frostpunk city nestled in a large crater

If Looks Could Chill

Frostpunk is a beautiful game. From the early moments of just a few tents around your Generator to the bustle of coal industry filling your cozy crater, it impresses graphically. Even the menus are pleasant to look at.

Workers will make tracks in the snow as they wander out to build or gather. You can zoom right in and see what individual citizens are up to. Clicking on them will even reveal aspects of their grim, grey lives.

Your city itself will huddle around the generator for warmth, as Frostpunk’s clever city design sees buildings created outward from the center. The essential roads that connect and power your workplaces fit in between buildings, as do the mobile mini-generators. It’s all very clever.


Trails in the snow lead away from a Frostpunk city

Even as the architect of your radial rooftops, the similarly snow-covered shelters make it hard to tell if you’re clicking on one of the three different kinds of temple, or the four different kinds of medical centre. We sometimes clicked from white roof to white roof, unable to find our Cookhouse. But it’s a nice touch that you can tell how heated a building is by its crest of snow.

The further out from the Generator, the colder it gets of course. At first it feels unfair when the game dips you from a delightful -20C to -40C. For every 10 degrees Celsius the temperature plunges, you’ll need to research additional heat and insulation. Below a certain threshold, your workers can’t work, your engineers can’t engineer, and your doctors can’t doct.


A heatmap shows which buildings are warm and which are freezing

The combination of Generator power and range upgrades, mini satellite generator hubs, and individual workplace coal burners will tickle the optimisation centre of your brain. It’s not just about resource parity, it’s about stockpiling for the hard times.

Trust us. You’ll be wishing for -40C before the end.

Hope and Discontent

Here’s something different. In this new icey world, there are only so many productive hours in the day. Although the day/night cycle doesn’t affect the temperature in Frostpunk, night is when people often get sick, and you’ll have to plan for most buildings and workers functioning for 10 out of 24 hours.

The off hours are still relevant — cooldowns cool down, and automatons still work. But no one’s going to work through the night unless you force them to do so with laws.

It’s the end of the world, but these jokers are clocking off at 6pm. Bloody unions, amirite?


Automatons walk from the Generator to their workplace
Automatons can work through the cold nights

In addition to managing your coal, wood, and steel, you’ll have to manage your people’s mood. Represented by the Hope and Discontent bars at the screen’s bottom, this is the mechanical representation of empathy, preventing you from pushing workers until they drop in the snow.

Mix too much sawdust into their food rations and their ungrateful stomachs start to rumble. Treat a few people on the floor of a crowded Medical Post, and the whingers start to lose Hope.

For survivors of a winter wasteland, these people just can’t seem to chill.

Order and Faith

Like the air around them, your citizens are prone to radical extremes. Partway through the game, you’ll choose between extreme nationalism and blind zealotry to combat the cold.

The paths of Order and Faith are thematic opposites but similar in systems. Both use buildings with an area of effect to keep citizens in line. Both culminate in eliminating the Hope bar as you become unquestionably supreme. Nothing like a good public execution to take your mind off that mild frostbite.

Things get mighty grim towards the end, and it takes extreme measures to survive. Your citizens will likely banish or execute you before everyone dies. In Frostpunk, the only fail state is a failed state. Before the Hope bar reaches zero or the Discontent bar reaches full, it’s up to you to convince them that fortune favours the cold.



Frostpunk has a great understanding of what a moral choice should involve in an interactive narrative. It avoids Telltale’s “Kobayashi Maru” formula, a simple serving of two bad outcomes. Neither does it fall into the trap of offering story consequences without representing those results tangibly in gameplay.

Every decision is appropriately weighted against a thematically sensible in-game resource. Sometimes you’re weighing up Hope vs Discontent, or Discontent vs time, or skilled engineers vs coal, or scout exploration vs an increasingly sick population in need of heat. It’s all tied to something solid, in a way that makes sense, and in that way Frostpunk achieves its goal as an empathetic, story-driven city-builder.



Scouts, Events, and Sameyness

People are a valuable resource. A fragile one too, considering this resource can get sick. People don’t reproduce within the timeframe of this game, so adding to your numbers involves scouting the surrounding Frostland for survivors. If you’re short on workers, whether you force them through longer shift hours or introduce child labour is one of Frostpunk’s many tough calls.

They are however, from game to game, the same calls at the same times. Frostpunk is a city-builder, but also very much a crafted scenario with fixed points along the way. Each game will have the man who refuses an amputation. Each game will feature the troublesome rebels who want to pack up and go back to London.



As you explore the wider Frostland for resources and survivors, the map will be the same each game along with its events and rewards. You’ll know exactly where to go to get the automaton, and exactly where to set up the outpost sending you 800 coal per day.

There’s seemingly some post-decision randomness at work. The aforementioned unwilling amputee may later thank you for saving his life, or he may commit suicide. But often, you’ll know the script, fully aware of exactly how many volunteers will die when you send them to save the coal mines.

All of this means Frostpunk’s carefully crafted narrative comes at the cost of discovery. It’s absolutely worth replaying, but don’t expect anything new.

That’s a trade we’re happy to make in a game so utterly unique, and the developer has also said it’s planning a sandbox/endless mode.

Is Frostpunk Good?

Frostpunk is hard, but you’ll get the hang of it. And when you do, it’s waiting with some harder scenarios, and all-too-rare intelligent achievements for you to play again in challenging, interesting ways.

Just like 11 Bit Studios did with This War of Mine, it has brought a unique take to this genre with well-thought-out underlying systems. You won’t get the million hours that you would from Civilization or Sim City. But you will get something completely different, interesting, and memorable.

It seems odd to apply the word “fun” to a game so grim, but like life in extreme circumstances, Frostpunk finds a way.

The post ‘Frostpunk’ Review: Survival City-Building in a Winter Wasteland appeared first on FANDOM.

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Film Review: ‘Supercon’

One of those comedies so incessantly and aggressively unfunny that you begin to wonder whether that’s the joke, documentary director Zak Knutson’s first narrative feature “Supercon” is a poor stab at Christopher Guest-style ensemble antics combined with a rote heist plot. The Comic Con-esque setting ought to be a rich target for satire, but life […]

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Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Raises the Stakes for Superhero Films (Spoiler Free Review)

Avengers: Infinity War

It’s been 10 years since the Marvel cinematic universe was launched, and every moment from 2008’s Iron Man to last November’s Thor: Ragnarok led to the tour de force that is Avengers: Infinity War. The latest Avengers movie proves that Marvel had a vision, and not only did the studio stick to it they delivered […]

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review: Marvel Delivers On Every Promise

Spoiler-free: This Avengers: Infinity War review will not contain specific plot spoilers, but it will cover the film’s themes, characters, and expectations. 

For the last 10 years, Marvel has been building to this one storyline: Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Gems. While Thanos‘ presence has been felt in many films, including the first Avengers, this is truly his grand entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As for Earth’s and the Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes, everyone has a role to play. Whether they’re holding back Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, or Thanos himself, each Guardian, each Avenger, and each hero in this film has something powerful to do. As for who lives and who dies, while we won’t be covering that here, we can say this: the stakes are real and certain characters will not be coming back.

Grab your tissues, your shields, and your best pop culture references and let’s dive into this non-spoiler review for Avengers: Infinity War.

The Emotional Moments Hit Home


Avengers Infinity War Scarlet Witch Vision

If Marvel has proved anything in the last ten years, it’s that each of their characters can hold their own in stand alone films. This was how the Marvel Universe was built. Tony Stark led the charge by saying “I am Iron Man” at the end of Iron Man. But, as Nick Fury said, Tony Stark and all the other characters in this film have “become part of a larger universe.”

That universe has become tightly intertwined through the relationships these characters have built over the last 10 years. Tony and Pepper Potts, Bucky and Captain America, Thor and Loki, Rocket and Groot, Tony and Bruce Banner, Black Widow and Falcon, Gamora and Star-Lord, Tony and Peter Parker, Black Panther and Shuri.

These relationships have meaning and in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos will tear them apart. It would be easy to say, “bring tissues because X dies…” but that’s not quite the case here. Bring the tissues because characters that love each other, whether it’s the “unspoken” love between Star-Lord and Gamora or the love that has been blossoming between Wanda and Vision, this love is tested and tested HARD.

Marvel’s Funniest Film to Date


Avengers Infinity War Doctor Strange Tony Stark Bruce Banner Wong

In the midst of this testing, Marvel never fails to land a good joke. The audience in the theater was howling during certain scenes, howling as loud as audiences might have done the first time Star-Lord called Kevin Bacon a hero in the first Guardians of the Galaxy.

Right away the film kicks in the humor. One minute you could be crying and the next you could be laughing. That’s how well Marvel has figured out their storytelling. Peter Parker delivers a lot of these laughs, especially with his never ending movie and pop culture references. Doctor Strange delivers a lot of dry humor, especially when he meets Tony Stark for the first time.  And, as always, the Guardians deliver huge laughs. Especially Rocket, who has some fantastic moments with Thor.

What’s important about this levity is that it’s needed. Thanos is not called the “mad Titan” for nothing. He is hellbent on getting the gems and his “children”, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian, are RUTHLESS. In fact, their fight sequences with the Avengers are some of the best Marvel has even done.

The Film Delivers Incredible Spectacle


Avengers Infinity War Spider-Man Iron Spider

When looking at a film like this, it’s hard not to think of other superhero films that have come before. While it would be easy to compare this to Justice League or even the first Avengers, nothing even comes close to Infinity War. The only film that has ever achieved this combination of storytelling, set pieces, stunts, action, and battles is Return of the King.

Return of the King, while only the third film in the Lord of the Rings franchise (Infinity War is 19th, if we’re counting), gave audiences the biggest on screen battle they have ever seen. It also divided its key cast, sending Frodo into Mordor, Aragorn into the Dead City, Gandalf to the White Tower of Gondor and Merry and Pippin to both sides of the great battle.

In Infinity War, multiple storylines take place at once, all over the galaxy. Each new planet the film visits is breathtaking and the final battle in Wakanda is definitely on the scale of the final battle in Return of the King. In terms of visual effects, the film fires on all pistons. Planets, aliens, battles, Tony’s new Iron Man suit, the Iron Spider suit Peter wears, Doctor Strange and Wong‘s mystical powers, even the gems themselves look gorgeous and incredibly detailed. Every scene, every effect, every choice pays off.

Is Avengers: Infinity War Good?


Avengers Infinity War Thanos

Yes. It’s really good. Good is actually an understatement considering everything that Marvel accomplished in this film. And here’s the crazy thing, Infinity War is only PART ONE of a two-part story. That’s right, the end of Infinity War is the BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER in cinematic history. While the film does come to a very specific ending, it sets up the entire plot of Avengers 4.

Don’t Miss the Cameos



There are some great cameos in this film! While Stan Lee is always a friendly face to see on film, another character from the Marvel Universe does make his or her return. No spoilers, but the audience made such an audible gasp when this person came on screen it was amazing. Also, the film does answer three of the biggest questions everyone is asking:

“Where is the Soul Gem?”

“Where is Hawkeye?”

“Is there a post-credit scene?”

You will find out all of these answers and more when the film opens later this week! As for the post-credit scene, a true Marvel fan always stays until the end credits.

Avengers: Infinity War opens worldwide on April 27, 2018.

Where Everyone Stands Before ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (Updated)

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review: Not All Your Marvel Superhero Faves Make It Out Alive

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

I’m not going to tell you who dies in Avengers: Infinity War.

Nonetheless, death hangs like a shroud over the latest—and, to date, largest—entry in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, which assembles just about every previously introduced series character for all-out CGI war against Thanos, a purple-faced behemoth (embodied by Josh Brolin via motion-capture technology) with arrogant boasts and apocalyptic rationalizations dripping off his tongue. Thanos has travelled to Earth (and the far reaches beyond) in search of the Infinity Stones, those six magical cosmic objects that provide all sorts of limitless powers, and which he plans to use (in a shiny gold glove known as the Infinity Gauntlet) to obliterate half of the world’s creatures in his ongoing quest to bring balance to the universe.

It’s a plan for combatting overpopulation that only a super-lunatic could conceive.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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A Review of Amazon Prime Wardrobe

review of Amazon Prime WardrobeCurious about Amazon Prime Wardrobe, their new try-before-you-buy shopping option? Kate just tried it, so I asked her to write about her shopping experience for us… – Kat

Now that Amazon is expanding its try-before-you-buy feature to more customers, we thought it’d be a great time to share a review of Amazon Prime Wardrobe. Last summer, when Amazon originally announced Prime Wardrobe (presumably created to compete with Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, and so on), it wasn’t available to all Prime members — and it still isn’t.  Currently, the FAQ says, “Prime Wardrobe is currently available by invitation to Prime members. Prime members can request an invitation at amazon.com/pw-learnmore.” I never requested it, so I guess I just got lucky (although it could be because I’m a very frequent Prime user).

Psst: Regarding online shopping in general, we’ve also talked about how to get your money back on returned online purchases, the best online shopping apps for deals and more, and had a great discussion with readers on their favorite online shopping destinations.

Here’s my review of Amazon Prime Wardrobe:

 

review of Amazon Prime WardrobeI was shopping for bras on Amazon about a week ago when I happened to see a mention of Prime Wardrobe, which allows you to try on clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry at home for 7 days without paying anything up front. (The service is available for men’s, women’s, and kids’ items.) The whole Prime Wardrobe process was very easy, but that wasn’t a huge surprise, considering it’s Amazon. Here are the basics:

  • Only certain items are available through Prime Wardrobe. (You can pick it as an option when you do a search.)
  • You can try 3–8 items for 7 days, and you pay nothing when you order.
  • You don’t get 2-day Prime shipping — it may take several days to get your order.
  • You can keep anything you want from your order, and you must send the rest back within the 7-day period. If you keep more than $ 200 worth, you get a special $ 20 launch discount.
  • If you don’t return your items within 7 days (using the original envelope/box and the included return label), you’ll be automatically charged for everything. (If you are charged for something you don’t want, you can still return it under the terms of the Amazon Fashion 30 day return policy.)

I figured that trying various bras would be a particularly good way to use the service, especially because I had recently ordered a couple of them individually and then returned them to Amazon (through free returns) when they didn’t fit. On April 13, I ordered eight bras in various styles and sizes. The checkout process was just like the regular one, although I had to agree to the Prime Wardrobe terms and conditions and “pay” $ 0.00 (rather than $ 400+). I was later charged a temporary fee of $ 1 to verify the card. The shipping estimate was 4–6 days (or possibly 5–7 — I can’t remember), but I received the items on April 16, when I also got an email confirming the try-on period. I logged into my account to see “Try at home until Mon, April 23” and “7 days left.” Amazon says they send reminders, too.

Well, surprise, surprise — none of the eight bras fit (dressing-room deja vu!), so I went online the next day and clicked “return” for each item (instead of “buy”). I received a confirmation email, used the original resealable bag and the return label provided, and then dropped off the package at UPS on April 20. As of April 21, my order says “return pending,” so as long as it goes through smoothly and I don’t get charged more than $ 400 for a bunch of Wacoal bras I no longer have, I would definitely use Prime Wardrobe again. (In addition to bras, I think it would be especially good for jeans!)

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, do you have access to Prime Wardrobe yet? If you’ve used it, what did you order, and how did it go? If  Prime Wardrobe isn’t an option for you yet, what sorts of things do you think you’ll use it for? When you’re shopping online in general, do you usually order two or more sizes of certain things and plan on returning the rest, rather than one size/item at a time?

Ed’s note: We do have a business relationship with Amazon (you can read more here), but this post was written without editorial involvement or encouragement from Amazon.

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Lawyers for Trump attorney propose candidates to review seized files

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen have asked a federal judge to consider four candidates to review material seized by the FBI that may be protected by attorney-client privilege, rather than let prosecutors look at it first.


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Review Roundup: TINA Opens in London

TINA, a new musical based on the life of legendary artist Tina Turner just opened at the Aldwych Theatre and is currently booking to 20 October 2018. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, choreography is by Anthony Van Laast, with set and costume designs by Mark Thompson, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Bruno Poet, sound by Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Jeff Sugg and orchestrations by Ethan Popp.
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‘God of War’ review: The first must-have game of 2018

‘God of War’ review: The first must-have game of 2018“God of War” is a triumph. Sony’s Santa Monica Studio, the team behind the latest entry in the series, deftly steered the franchise through its first over-the-top trilogy and off-shoots with seeming ease. The story of Kratos, a Spartan demigod and his quest for vengeance against the Greek gods who used him as a puppet in their twisted games, was always about making the player feel bigger, badder and more powerful through gory violence, massive set pieces and, yes, the occasional virtual sex act for the purpose of taking down the gods of Olympus.



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BWW Review: Echoes of G.B. Shaw in Mark Medoff’s CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD

While audiences gather at Lincoln Center to see Lerner and Lowe’s musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s classic, there’s a different kind of Pygmalion story being played out at Studio 54, where Mark Medoff’s 1980 Tony winner for Best Play, Children of a Lesser God is receiving its first Broadway revival.
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‘God of War’ Review: Kratos Returns in 2018’s First Essential Game

When it comes to burly video game protagonists, there are few as archetypally angry as Kratos. The antihero has every reason to be a bit ticked off too. Tricked by the god Ares into murdering his wife and child, Kratos’ desire for revenge has motivated the muscular killing machine across three main God of War games and several portable spin-offs, leaving a trail of slain gods and mortals in his wake.

Yet, as fun as most of these violent screen-filling showdowns were, players eventually tired of the revenge-led bloodshed as poor old Kratos must have. By the time they watched the credits roll on the third game, our beloved antihero had slain nearly all the gods of Mount Olympus — and it began to feel like our tortured torturer had finally run out of deities to blame and blood to spill.

It turns out though, it was the Ancient Greek setting that held our hero back. After a five-year absence from gaming, Sony’s Santa Monica Studios has brought everyone’s favorite anti-hero back to PlayStation in the simply titled God of War (2018). But just as its fans have grown and changed since the series’ 2005 debut, players now also find themselves presented with a very different Kratos — and we’re happy to say, it’s a risk that’s paid off.

A Much-Needed Change



Right from the slow-paced introduction, it’s clear that this is a refreshingly different take on God of War. This time around, our Spartan soldier is not motivated simply by a lust for revenge, but by a need to change.

With Kratos now just as tired and worn as the series’ blood-shedding premise, we find our protagonist laying low in a frost-coated Nordic locale after the bloody events of God Of War 3. Predictably, this newfound solace doesn’t last.

After years spent living a peaceful life with his new family and the unexpected death of his second wife, the arrival of some unwelcome visitors forces Kratos to face the ghosts of his past and finally step up and be a father to his young child.

Dad of War



For a series all about bulging muscles and blood-soaked action, having Kratos tackle fatherhood may sound like a bizarre direction for God of War to go in. Yet, what could have easily been a character-ruining attempt at shoehorning in an emotional story instead feels like a surprisingly effortless and logical character progression.

It’s not just a chin-stroking narrative device either — learning to be a father is very much part of the core gameplay experience here. Thanks to events beyond his control, Kratos has no choice but to bring his son, Atreus, along with him on this dangerous journey. While this could have easily felt like a bit of a drag, Atreus is no slouch when it comes to combat.

Wielding a bow and arrow and brandishing his mother’s hunting knife, he’s every bit as competent a warrior as you’d imagine Kratos’ son to be. Thanks to his ability to distract nearby foes and the (much appreciated) option for players to line up Atreus’ shots, within no time at all Kratos Jr. has cemented himself as one of our favorite AI companions.

A New Perspective



It’s a good thing you have Atreus helping you out from a distance too because, in God of War (2018), your field of vision on the battlefield is far more limited than it used to be. Doing away with the zoomed out perspective and frenetic combo-chaining of old, Kratos’ latest adventure instead offers players a far more intense and personal experience.

Here, the camera has been moved claustrophobically close to gaming’s most famous anti-hero, with a new over-the-shoulder view putting you literally and figuratively closer to Kratos than ever before.

This new perspective not only suits the tone of the game perfectly but impressively, the team at Santa Monica have managed to have the entire game play out in a single shot, making every transition from gameplay to cinematic cut-scenes jaw-droppingly seamless. Speaking of jaw-dropping, from start to finish, this reboot is nothing short of a visual tour de force.

Thanks to stunningly detailed texture work, beautiful animations, and almost suspiciously naturalistic lighting, Santa Monica’s latest is a real graphical showcase for the PS4 Pro.

Beautiful Brutality


Kratos in God of War (2018)

Still, it’s not all about aesthetics. This is a God of War game, after all, and as you’d expect from the franchise, this is an experience that lives and dies on its combat. Thankfully, this more emotionally intense and grounded narrative tone is one that’s reflected in the new combat system.

This time around, battles feel just as raw and challenging as the wider situation Kratos and Atreus find themselves in. With age taking its toll on our once-unstoppable Greek god, the team has sensibly opted to swap the fast-paced and fluid combat of old for suitably clunky and intense skirmishes.

Playing like a mix of Dark Souls and Bayonetta, you’ll find yourself constantly dodge-rolling and attempting to parry enemy attacks, as opposed to the God of War of yesteryear, where players simply sprinted around the battlefield joyously juggling ten foes across their spinning blades.

That’s not to say that combat isn’t fun — it just has a very different cadence to what came before. Once it clicks, however, it produces some of the most satisfying virtual combat in recent memory. Somehow, its one of those rare cases where the gameplay both feels familiar and yet quite unlike anything else you’ve played.

Taking Notes



Games have changed a lot in the five years that God of War has been on hiatus, but it looks like during that time, the team at Sony Santa Monica were paying close attention to the competition. Thanks to the shiny new RPG elements, you can vastly upgrade both father and son’s armor and weapons, helping them deal more damage and unlocking more skills for you to play with on the battlefield.

It’s not just the combat that feels like a different beast here either. The whole structure you’d usually expect from a God of War game has been turned completely on its head. No longer is it just the linear slasher the series is known for, this foreign land Kratos now inhabits provides players with a game world that’s grown alongside our hero.

Clocking in at over 40 hours, this is by far Kratos’ longest outing to date. Where previous entries in the franchise merely saw players sprinting from set piece to set piece, this time there’s far more freedom. While it would be a stretch to call Kratos’ new Nordic surroundings an open world, it’s certainly sizable.

With a boat used to get you and Atreus around, locations you can fast travel to and even the odd sidequests waiting to be completed, this is a game world with a fair amount to do. Eschewing the linear environments of old in favor of Metroidvania-style sandboxes has allowed the game’s creators to give the player freedom while still having enough control to keep the tightly-crafted cinematic set pieces that fans expect from the franchise.

A Tale for the Ages



Still, despite the many changes here, it was the more relateable Kratos that came as the biggest shock here. For a franchise known for its killer combos and unrelenting brutality, the story is surprisingly heartfelt and emotional.

While there’s still gore and violence by the corpse-load, this cinematic adventure feels far more reminiscent of the father-daughter relationship in The Last of Us than the testosterone-soaked Devil May Cry challenger the franchise started as.

While Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic opus did a better job of delivering high-quality dialogue through character interactions during gameplay, Sony Santa Monica has still commendably managed to keep Atreus’ and Kratos’ relationship believable.

Is God of War Any Good?

This stunning reboot not only manages to set a new standard for combat in action games but equally impressively, it adds layers of complexity and depth to one of gaming’s most grumbling antiheroes – and all without ever making him feel unrecognizable. In short, God of War (2018) is a triumph, let down only by some unnecessary midgame bloat and a disappointingly lazy slew of boss fight repetition. Despite its flaws though, Kratos’ return is a highly enjoyable and surprisingly moving tale — and one that you won’t want to miss.

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